Category — arthouse
Michael Keaton is the real deal. For decades he’s proven it: Whether In a full tilt farce like Johnny Dangerously (1984), an odd ball dramedy like The Paper (1994), taking on the flat-out dramatic in Clean And Sober (1988)- Hell, even One Good Cop (1991) comes to mind. Throw the guy the right material and he flat out shines. And such it is with art film director Alejandro González Iñárritu‘s [Amores Perros (2000), Babel (2006), Biutiful (2010)] latest film, whose full mind boggling title is Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014), where Keaton plays a nearly washed up actor named Riggan Thomson who’s desperate to show the world he isn’t just a tent pole superhero thesp, but a serious, important artist. This movie plays like an X-Ray of cinema itself, peeling the layers away until you’re sick to your stomach, exposing us to the madness underneath it all. Inarritu uses a ‘single take’ technique (a clever budgetary cheat) to force us to witness it all without release, as Keaton becomes increasingly unhinged and scenes descend to mania. The film opens on him in his underwear floating off of the ground Swami-like a’la Dr. Manhattan from Watchmen (2009), and it only gets crazier from there. It’s a joy to behold. Obviously Keaton is a bit of stunt casting, reminding us of those glorious Donner and Burton days, when the bedrock for cinematic superdom was first being laid and Marvel Phase 3 was just a twinkle in a fanboy’s eye. But his presence turns Birdman into a remarkably personal journey, adding layers of meaning to the whole affair. His creepy “inside voice” drives the narrative, forcing Batman, er, Birdman towards more dizzying heights of self-reflexivity. And the rest of the cast is to be commended as well, especially Edward Norton, a notoriously difficult actor to work with who taps into that meta-text here as well. If there’s one grievance with the film it’s that the material gets thin where Emma Stone and Naomi Watts (who worked with Alejandro on 21 Grams) are concerned, giving the impression these characters were afterthoughts. Tiny nitpicks really, because Birdman delivers the goods in hallucinatory doses, its surreal imagery of a New York as seen from a deteriorating mind accompanied by a jazzy drum score courtesy of Antonio Sanchez. Venture down this dark tunnel with Birdman, and you’ll find that by the time you reach the other side, Keaton’ll be your dark knight yet again.
November 3, 2014 No Comments
Here’s a quick set-up and pay-off scene from one of Woody Allen’s most underrated flicks, Broadway Danny Rose (1984), impeccably shot in black and white by the late great Gordon Willis, who passed away earlier this year. We love this film’s wraparound device of a bunch of wise guys sitting around talking about some poor shlub talent agent named Danny Rose and how he came to be entangled in a love triangle involving a lounge singer (Nick Apollo Forte), his mistress (Mia Farrow), and a jealous gangster. Here you see a great example of Allen’s narrative strategy, who made a career of subverting story via fundamentally changing one essential element (most times casting himself as the unlikely lead in a story that would otherwise play “straight”). Here he flips the script by changing the setting in which a contrived situation occurs and turning a standard chase/shoot-out scene on its ear by adding one small (literal) element: Helium.
June 18, 2014 No Comments
BATTLE ROYALE up on the big screen where it belongs! In Austin!
Austinites rejoice! Spearheaded by our very own IsleOfCinemite Rockie [
@RockieWarAntz], IOC is proud to present a very special treat for fans of fantastic film in Central Texas! April 25th, 2013 – MARK YOUR CALENDAR!
As many of you already know, Kinji Fukasaku‘s Battle Royale (2000) – the GREATEST movie of the 21st Century – was never shown theatrically in the U.S. of A. This travesty is now being corrected, and here’s your chance to see this masterpiece as it was intended – with a crowd of fans in a packed freakin’ theater!
I’ll spare you more superlatives because there is simply nothing I can say to do this movie justice. All you need know is that it is the culmination of one of the finest directorial careers of all time, that rare cinematic beast that satisfies heart, mind, soul – and hunger for action! I’m serious – if Luis Buñuel, Seijun Suzuki, Jack Hill, Peter Jackson, Samuel Fuller, Steven Spielberg, Álex de la Iglesia, Quentin Tarantino, Joe Dante, Brian DePalma and several more of your favorite filmmakers (and some you never heard of) had a celluloid baby this would be it. THIS WOULD BE IT! Or forget all those names and just know that it’s a goddamm Kinji Fukasaku film!
So gather all ye Austinites! If you’re a fan of J.J. Abrams‘ Lost, if you’re a fan of The Hunger Games (nobody’s judging), of The Running Man (1987), if you’re a fan of Lord of the Rings, Lord of the Flies, Lord of Illusions, Lord of the Dance, Traci Lords – hell if you possess a set of eyes in your skull –
YOU MUST SEE THIS MOVIE!!!
And check out a great scene from the movie, previously featured here !
We need your asses in the seats to make this happen! So go sign up to see it now! April 25th, 2013 – but you have until the 18th to purchase tickets!
April 1, 2013 1 Comment
REWIND THIS! had its world premiere at SXSW and IOC was were!
Josh Johnson‘s ode to the VHS age, Rewind This! (2013) opens with a film enthusiast combing a flea market for VHS tapes, overflowing with the sort of passion any and all global VHS hunters (and film lovers) will immediately recognize. This image sets the tone for the love story to follow, between human film fanatics and the dead format known to Gen X‘ers as VHS. As some of you may recall I interviewed Josh before the film’s completion (here), as he, Carolee Mitchell and Christopher Palmer set out to tackle the subject none had dared tackle before them. And now, seeing the final result, it’s safe to say that their film will go down as a definitive work: an in-depth documentary that dives into the history of VHS, from it’s inception to its demise (Betamax is touched upon but as victor of the format war the spoils go to VHS). We get a glimpse into some incredible VHS collections, owned by people eager to proudly show them off and explain how they acquired their precious and rare finds. Although loaded with local Austin film junkies and VHS collectors, Rewind This! manages to broaden its horizons by traveling the globe: to Japan, where legendary Ghost in the Shell director Mamoru Oshii explains his relationship to the format and how he became “spoiled”by it. To Canada, where Exotica director Atom Egoyan explains the magic in discovering the uses you could get out of VHS. Film critics offer perspectives as well, including heavy hitters like Drew McWeeney and James Rocchi, and what emerges is a well-rounded portrait of more than just a format but a moment in time. Having grown up in video stores (and currently employed by one) my favorite moment is director Frank Henenlotter explaining the unique feature on his sublime horror comedy Frankenhooker‘s VHS box: press a button and hear a reanimated prostitute ask you “Wanna date?” This prompts a montage of several other VHS junkies explaining the same feature, and results in the sort of rush of recognition shared by enthusiasts across the world: I personally hit that damn button a million times with every visit to the video store! But beyond my own attachment to VHS, Rewind This! is an essential historical document. Without the VHS boom there’d be no video stores, no developments in home video, no DVR, no making films in the backyard with friends and family, and none of the thousands of future filmmakers mesmerized by aisles of VHS boxes sitting like dreams up on video store shelves. As we inch closer to an all-digital age, where all is streaming with little to no physical media at all, the younger generations of film-aficionados can now fully understand the foundation – because it was during the VHS age that true cinematic passion thrived, and that passion today fuels all their cult/weird/action-packed journeys into the incredible – be they film or interactive gaming or whatever. Like Not Quite Hollywood (2008) and Machete Maidens Unleashed! (2010) before it, Rewind This! will whet your appetite for rare films to add to your collection, but with the added bonus of causing you to scour the earth hunting for a VHS player the second you finish watching it. Powerful stuff, and a must see for cinephiles everywhere!
March 20, 2013 2 Comments